Black Friday shopping is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. Follow my tips and you'll be shopping like a pro in no time!
- Strategy, strategy, strategy. You don't go on a vacation without learning about the major attractions, so why would you go shopping without a plan? Start with your gift list, then comb through the ads, several times if need be, to find the appropriate gifts/bargains. Then, figure out what stores you're going to go to. If you're going after a Doorbuster (an awesome bargain that normally sells out quickly), make sure you hit that store as soon as it opens. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to go here first. For example, we usually go to Kohl's first since it opens at 4, then head over to Target and stand in line, since it opens at 6.
- Carts are for amateurs and pregnant women. And since at least one of my sisters has been pregnant for the past three years, they get the cart. If you're running for a doorbuster, don't make the mistake of stopping for a cart. Run to the department (usually electronics!!), elbow, push, and yell until you get your item, THEN run back for the cart. If you're going for a big-ticket item like a tv, the salespeople will actually bring it up to the register for you on a flatbed. Remember: Deals first, then cart, then general shopping.
- Bring your ads with you. If there's a price discrepancy or you simply can't remember which model you want, the ads are a lifesaver. Don't count on the stores to supply them.
- Stick to your list (if you're a list kind of person). With the bargains being overwhelming and the atmosphere impulsive, resist buying things just because they are cheap. If you're not going to use it, you haven't saved any money.
- Hit as many stores up as possible. As long as you're up to it (and you still have money left), all stores have some great bargains. Most of the time, smaller shops don't even advertise. For example, one year I was making fleece blankets for Tom's brothers. I knew Hancock Fabrics was having a 50% off fleece sale. I headed over then when it opened (10 am!), and since I was one of the first 10 people (inadvertently), the manager gave me a $10 off coupon. Holla!
- Stay organized. Check people off your list once you've bought their presents. By the time you get home and you're showing off your purchases, you'll be pulling out stuff you forgot you bought. Happens every year.
- Bring a friend. Black Friday shopping is always more fun with someone else. Sometimes it gets difficult when you need different stores, or different departments, but it's totally worth it to have someone to help you when you second-guess yourself.
- Drink sparingly. Weird one, no? Every BF morning, I stop at Dunkin' Donuts to get coffee/hot chocolate for the group. The catch? We consume it while either waiting in line, or when browsing leisurely through Kohl's. We always have our hands open when we hit Target. (See #2). Plus, who wants to be making tons of bathroom breaks??
- Beware of mail-in rebates. They can make for a great bargain, but you need to be really organized to be sure you have the rebate form, a copy of your receipt, and the UPC label. And if you're giving the item away as a gift, you can kiss that UPC label goodbye.
- Be sure to get gift receipts. In the frenzy of check-out, this can often slip your mind. While you're waiting in line, start figuring out how many you'll need, and tell the cashier right away. At some stores, you can't get a gift receipt once you've paid.
Good luck & Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to report back to me with all your great bargains!